NEW YORK CITY — It’s a short off-TV undercard, with just three bouts leading up to the main event Saturday night between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale. We’ll cover those three here, then do separate posts for Golvokin-Geale and the televised undercard bout, the heavyweight clash between Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez.
The three bouts feature junior welterweight prospect Julian Rodriguez from neighboring New Jersey, Washington, D.C. welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison and cruiserweight contender Ola Afolabi. (The Glen Tapia bout fell through.)
That didn’t take long, literally. Yankton Southern got stopped in 43 seconds by Rodriguez, courtesy a mean left hook to the body, and perhaps courtesy Southern being a Midwestern import with a record of 4-5-0, facing a local fighter with jus three fights himself. It’s too bad; Southern walked to the ring to the music of Radiohead, which is not the usual.
Hernandez-Harrison won a unanimous decision over Wilfredo Acuna that was workmanlike and intelligent. Hernandez-Harrison has struggled in a couple recent high profile bouts, including a bout where he suffered a knockdown. He was very deliberate in the fight, to the dismay of some in the crowd, but the approach made a certain amount of sense under the circumstances. Acuna had 12 knockouts in his 15 wins, although he also has 14 losses, seven by knockout. Acuna was a southpaw who connected well when he connected, although he ended up not doing much of it thanks to Hernandez-Harrison’s tight defense. Meanwhile, Hernandez-Harrison landed sharp counters between lighter and slower shots, wobbling Acuna with right hands in the 4th. This version of Hernandez-Harrison might not have moved the crowd much, but it’s also one that’s more on track to building a fighter who will win more frequently down the road. Finding the balance will be key.
Afolabi pounded on hopeless Anthony Caputo Smith for a few rounds before the bout was waved off. The puffy, shorter Smith was wildly outclassed, but game; after his first knockdown in the 3rd, via a flush uppercut, he landed one of his best shots. The second knockdown came at the end of the 3rd and was delivered by a left hook after Afolobi sidestepped a whiffing Smith. This was target practice, nothing more. The bout was halted by doctors after the 3rd ended, with Smith bleeding badly from a cut that sprung open in the 2nd.